Ofcom has today published a consultation on a request from ESTV Ltd – the provider of the London local television service London Live – to vary the programming commitments in its local television licence.
Why am I blogging about this you might ask? Well, it seems what ESTV, run by the Evening Standard and Independent owners Alexander Lebedev and his son Evgeny, want to do is make London live, well, less local. Yes, that’s right. The owners of London’ s LOCAL TV licence want permission to make it LESS LOCAL.
This is comedy gold to those of us who have been watching to history of local tv roll out. No one (with the exception of Jeremy Hunt, whose brainchild this was when her was Culture Secretary) really thought this would ever work. There was never any real research done asking people if they wanted such services and/or if they’d tune in.
London Live started broadcasting on 31 March 2014. So it has taken just over three months for them to realise it is not a viable business. As a result they want to try and turn it into a ‘normal’ channel. I have previously written about how poor their commitment to local news and content was at launch so their attempts to reduce that further make a mockery of the process.
Under The Broadcasting Act 1996 Ofcom can consent to a request to change the character of a licensed service if it is satisfied:
• that the departure would not substantially alter the character of the service,
• that the departure would not unacceptably reduce the number and range of the programmes about the area or locality for which the service is licensed,
• that the departure would not unacceptably reduce the number of programmes made in the area or locality for which the service is licensed, and
• that the service would continue to meet the needs of the area or locality for which the service is licensed.
You don’t need to be a genius to realise that ESTV have exactly ZERO change of their request being granted. Ofcom have said they intend to reject the request, but are willing to hear representation for interested parties on that intention.